DongChaSong / DongDaSong
by the Venerable Cho-ui
Composed by the Venerable Cho-ui Ui-sun at the command of Haegeo-doin
This poem, the most celebrated Korean text about tea, was composed by Cho-ui in 1837 at the request of the king’s son-in-law, Haegeo-doin Hong Hyeon-ju, whom he had met during his visit to Seoul in 1830. Like many late Joseon (19th century) poems in Classical Chinese by Korean scholars, the author inserted numerous extended notes of explanation and commentary into the text of the poem.
complete text and translation of the poem, including
Cho-ui’s inserted notes, together
with the needed explanatory notes, can be found in the
book Korean Tea
Classics translated by
Brother Anthony of Taizé, Hong Keong-Hee,
Steven D. Owyoung (Seoul Selection, 2010). This
page is offered as an invitation to buy the book and
to provide the basic text for all who might wish to
Heaven and Earth wed together a beautiful tree and the virtues of the tangerine.
It obeys their command, invariably living in the southern regions.
The thickly-growing leaves struggle with sleet to stay green during the winter,
its white flowers blossom splendid in autumn, bathed in frost.
The flowers are white and pure as the powdery skin of the immortal who lives on Mount Guye.
The flower stamens fragrantly blend the sandalwood and river-gold of Jambudvipa.
Vast mists purify the pure, jade-green stems.
Dawn light enfolds the lustrous blue-green bird-tongue leaves.
Heaven, immortals, humans, ghosts, all esteem it highly,
for they know that by nature it is true and admirable.
The Emperor Yandi tasted it, then he wrote about it in his Classic of Food.
From ancient times the names Butter2 and Sweet Dew have been used.
The Duke of Zhou testified that tea relieves drunkenness and reduces sleep.
Yan Ying of Qi was renowned for his meals of unhulled rice with vegetables.
Yü Hong made sacrificial offerings, praying to Danqiu.
One hairy immortal led Qin Jing to a grove.
Long since buried, one unsparingly gave a fortune.
Of all the kinds of fine food enjoyed at high tables, only tea can still the Six Passions.
A remarkable tale tells how Emperor Wen was cured of a headache by it.
Thunder Pod and Fragrant Down began to be made.
Although the great Tang dynasty enjoyed every kind of delicate food,
the only plant recorded in the Qinyüan Garden was Purple Beauty.
Properly processed, first-grade tea developed from that time,
wise men and famous scholars praised its outstanding taste.
Cakes of tea decorated with dragons and phoenixes were beautifully
and skillfully made in varigated colors;
extravagant sums of money went into making a hundred cakes.
Who knows the full abundance of tea’s true color and fragrance?
Once contaminated, it loses its true quality.
A follower of the Way constantly sought tea’s perfect beauty,
planting it with his own hands high on Mount Meng.
When he had made five pounds of it, he offered it to the prince.
It was called Auspicious Flowerbud and Sacred Poplar Flower.
The flowery fragrances of Snow Flower and Plump Cloud competed,
Twin Wells and Radiant Sun were famous in Jiangxi and Zhejiang.
Jianyang and Danshan are sources of pure water,
Moon Stream and Cloud Pagoda are outstanding.
Tea made in our eastern land is identical to the original.
In color, scent and taste it is granted the same high merit.
Although that of Lu’an is known for its taste and that of Meng Mountain for its medicinal properties,
the great masters of the past prized the tea of Korea because it combines both qualities.
The aged return quickly to childhood like a tree revitalized as if by a miracle,
the face of an eighty-year-old is as pink as a lovely peach.
I have a rock spring, so I brew Excellent Blue and A Hundred-Year Life.
How shall I offer some to Old Hae at the foot of Mongmyeok Mountain?
With nine difficulties and four fragrances, tea is an extremely delicate affair.
How shall I teach all you monks sitting in meditation on Drifting Jade Terrace?
If the nine difficulties are overcome, the four fragrances will develop fully.
Tea of the finest flavor may be presented as one of the nine royal tributes.
Only Blue Wave and Green Fragrance were submitted to the court.
Wisdom dwells all round, every barrier falls. Its divine roots are entrusted to Spirit Mountain.
Immortal countenance and jade bones denote a different species.
Green buds and russet shoots pierce the roots of clouds, they are
crumpled like barbarians’ boots, wrinkled like the breast of an ox.
Drinking dew on clear nights, hands guided by meditation produce a wonderful fragrance.
A profound subtlety lies at the heart of this process that is hard to express.
True vitality cannot divide body and spirit.
Though body and soul are perfect, take care not to lose the harmony between them.
Harmony is nothing if not a balance of matter and spirit.
When I drink one cup of Jade Flower, a breeze rises beneath my arms,
my body grows light and I ascend to a state of supreme purity.
The bright moon becomes my candle, my friend,
a white cloud becomes my cushion, my screen.
The sound of bamboo oars and wind in pine trees, solitary and refreshing,
penetrates my weary bones, awakens my mind, so clear and cool.
With no other guests but a white cloud and the bright moon,
I am raised to a place far higher than any immortal.
Tasting Cho-ui’s new Fragrant Green Mist, picked before Gogu,
it is as delicate and fi ne as the tongues of birds.
Never say that Danshan Cloud tea or Moon Stream tea are superior.
A cup full of Thunder Pod prolongs life.